The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
* indicates required

“The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess” Is the Subversive Pop We’ve Been Needing

Clover Martin
Chappell Roan breaks through the traditional standards of pop with her long-awaited debut album.

Some of the songs on the album contain explicit content.

Heavily drag-inspired, unabashedly poppy, and ultra-feminine, Chappell Roan’s debut album, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess,” feels like getting barfed on by a disco ball, and it landed her an opening spot for Olivia Rodrigo’s “Guts World Tour.” To say the least, she caught my attention.

While Roan started from humble beginnings, even from her first video uploaded to YouTube six years ago, you could tell she had something to say, and since then, her talent as a musician has improved exponentially.

Femininomenon — 9.5/10

This is how you introduce an album. Starting with theatrical string instrumentals, only to transition into an endlessly catchy, glitzy beat, perfectly encapsulates the aesthetic Roan curates so well. You could listen to just this song and have a great understanding of Roan’s musical style. As typical with Roan, there’s some deserved critique of the patriarchy and some well-versed commentary on online dating double standards: 

“He disappeared from the second that you said 

‘Let’s get coffee, let’s meet up’ 

I’m so sick of online love”  

Red Wine Supernova — 9/10

This was one of the breakout songs from her debut, and that’s for good reason. Roan supposedly wrote the song because she “needed a campy gay girl song that captured the magic of having feelings for another girl.” 

It’s stuff like this that shows Roan’s subversive, ingénue energy that I think has been desperately needed in the pop scene for quite a while. This song borders on being a delicate love ballad, but stands firmly as the catchiest gay girl anthem to date.

After Midnight — 7.5/10

A vast majority of songs on this album have been teased or released by Roan previously, but “After Midnight” is one of four tracks that have never previously been heard. With a killer synth-y base and her trademark transcendent voice, this song, despite having some new elements for Roan, is a pretty traditional pop song. While her less subversive harmonies aren’t for me personally, most people I’ve introduced to Roan have ranked this song in their top three.

Coffee — 8/10

Another never-heard-before song on the album, striking a very different chord than her typical hyper-pop camp, it feels pretty intentional that Roan placed “Coffee” directly after all her extravagant and flashy melodies. “Coffee” is a perfect change of pace, serving as a gentle, touching auditory palate cleanser with mournful piano keys, a lovely chord progression, and the perfect touch of reverb. “Coffee” shows Roan’s range. And she knows it.

Casual — 9/10

This track was my personal introduction to Roan’s music, and it continues to stand out to me as one of her best songs. “Casual” is anything but casual, serenading you from the start with her go-to reverb and some beautiful echoed-out cymbals. Roan’s vocals soar in this song. It’s one of the most beautiful songs on the album, but definitely note that this song has more explicit, confidently salacious language than the others, making no effort to hide what is intended to be about. If you have no issue with that, give it a listen!

Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl — 9/10

With an almost 2010s Lady Gaga pop-esque intro, a transcendent bass line, hyperpop-inspired reverb — and as always — those gorgeous vocals of hers, this song makes you feel like you’re inside a disco ball. There is no other way to describe it. And with the standout lyrics from the song:

“This man wouldn’t dance 

He didn’t ask a single question 

And he was wearing these fugly jeans”  

This song is just too fun not to have a good time listening.

HOT TO GO! — 10/10

This one threw me for a loop for a second. Roan always walks the line between synth-esque, new-wave ‘80s and 2000s teen pop. Here, Roan goes full on ‘80s, with a crunchy, power pop intro. I adore this song. Immediately, it transports you into an ‘80s rom-com with Roan as the head cheerleader serenading her soon-to-be love interest. 

What’s more to say than this killer post-chorus?


You can take me hot to go”  

My Kink Is Karma — 9.5/10

This woman knows how to produce a chorus. Roan’s already showcased her fantastic vocal range throughout this album, and yet she continues to impress all of us. This one starts off in her lower register, singing about being slighted by an ex — fans of Taylor Swift’s “Karma” would definitely enjoy this one — and as the chorus climbs, her voice does along with it. With a stunning bridge that beautifully breaks the tension that the chorus builds up, it’s hard to not get this song stuck in your head.

Picture You — 9/10

Tensioned, sliding violin strings are the first things you hear in “Picture You,” and boy, does that momentum cascade throughout the song. This track features yet another stunning chord progression, mixed with her blanketed, velvet voice that perfectly captures the yearning, poetic, and delicate atmosphere that Roan can curate so easily.

“When I think of you 

Every night 

Both lips on the mirror 

It’s ritualistic 

Counting lipstick stains where you should be”

Truly stunning. 

Kaleidoscope — 8/10

This one is pretty gut-wrenching. Roan ditches her iconic pop vocals to deliver us yet another striking, hopeless romantic love ballad, and though most of her lyrics remain mostly symbolic — a far cry from her more overt songs like “Casual” and “Coffee”— “Kaleidoscope,” another never-before-heard song on the album, seems to be a tragic story of falling for your best friend, shown best in her heartbreaking pre-chorus: 

“And if you change your mind 

I will understand 

And it’ll just take time 

To go back to being friends” 

Pink Pony Club — 10/10 

You know those bad pop-punk tiktokers declaring they ‘just wrote the song of the summer?’ Well, Roan actually did. In 2021, Vulture dubbed “Pink Pony Club” the song of the summer. “Pink Pony Club”’ is one of the few songs that ambitiously merges Roan’s dreams of the Los Angeles stage and the ever-present theme of her home state, Missouri, calling her back. Lots of drag-inspired, campy elements take the stage in this song, and it’s left a lasting impression on her audience for a good reason.

Naked In Manhattan — 9/10

With a highschool melodrama opener that features her typical reverberated hook, “Naked In Manhattan” lends a special musicality to what could be an otherwise typical poppy high school love song. Yet again, this woman showcases her rare ability to write a hard-hitting, punchy chorus. Playing into her typical ‘so overly feminine and poppy that it ends up being subversive’ trademark, “Naked In Manhattan” tells a delicate yet bold story of falling for a girl while being talked down on for it, but not caring anyway. 

California — 8/10

Opening with stunningly isolated vocals, Roan overtly speaks of missing Missouri, with:

“Come get me out of California 

No leaves are brown 

I miss the seasons in Missouri 

My dying town”

“California” almost reads as a poem that just happened to be sung, and because of its simple nature, it’s not a hit with many fans, but I love it. There is a certain sentimentality captured with this kind of lyricism in combo with simple chords. Yes, it lacks her standard hyperpop flair, but it reveals a lot more — not about Chappell Roan, but about the woman behind the persona. It’s a pretty beautiful song for anyone who knows what homesickness feels like.

Guilty Pleasure — 9.5/10

Roan’s beginning vocals are so wonderfully melodic in “Guilty Pleasure,” and in company with the simple backtracking vocals, together it reads as a siren song. And, in typical Roan fashion, she completely flips the chord progression around from an almost Celtic melody to a synth-heavy, chunky ‘80s bass line. This is how you close an album. And keep in mind, this is all within the first minute of the song. This is a fantastic way to loop her vast array of song-genres together, and a fantastically campy song in general.

Overall, Chappell Roan’s take on pop is one we don’t see very often. It’s a hard tightrope to tread — beautifully portraying hyperpop, heartache, sentimentality, and a healthy dose of glitz and glam all in one extravagant album — and yet she succeeded far more than most would in just a standard pop record. Clearly, she’s someone to watch, and if Roan did this much in just her debut, imagine what she’ll do in the future.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Let us know what you think about this story by submitting a comment below. We welcome respectful comments that engage in conversations.

Comments are moderated, and won't appear until they are approved. An email address is required, but won't be publicly displayed. The Falconer's complete comment policy can be viewed on our policies page.
All The La Salle Falconer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *